Pezza Farm in Johnston, RI gap certified
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
Fax (401) 943-2318
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Johnston, RI - “We’re here Sunday, Monday…just about every day, there’s something that needs doing,” Doreen Pezza says of her family’s dedication to their 40 acre farm. Pezza Farm is run by Doreen and Michael Pezza, and their children, Shelley and Craig. The family endeavor began in 1947, when Doreen’s father-in-law purchased a dairy farm on the Plainfield Pike from the Briggs family. Since dairy farming was not profitable at the time and many small dairy farmers were going out of business, the Pezzas chose instead to focus on growing nursery stock, bedding plants, and vegetables. As the second generation of Pezzas to run the farm, Doreen and Michael Pezza have kept the family’s legacy going since the 1970’s.
The red barn that greets visitors when they turn into the parking lot has a long history, going back to before the Pezzas bought the farm. “It’s been there forever, no one knows how long,” Doreen said. In fact, she explained, the barn actually blew down in the hurricane of 1938, but was completely reconstructed by the owners before the Pezza family took over the property. Today, the barn houses Pezza Farm’s collection of animals: horses, a mule, a pony, sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens and ducks.
The animals do not figure into the day-to-day work of the farm and are used instead to welcome children and families. Pezza Farm is a popular spot for children’s birthday parties and fall hayrides, which include a ride through the woods, a visit to the pumpkin patch, and a stop at the cow pasture. The Pezzas encourage families to bring their children when they come for a visit, and are participating in the 2012 Rhode Island Farm Scavenger Hunt organized by Rhode Island Agriculture. In the winter, Pezza Farm becomes a popular spot for Christmas tree shopping, while in the fall their pumpkin patch draws many delighted visitors.
The 40 acres that make up Pezza Farm are divided up into 20 acres of vegetables and 20 acres of plants for the greenhouses. If you are looking to grow your own lettuce, peppers, broccoli, or fennel, you can find those and many other vegetable plants at Pezza Farm. The farm grows an incredible assortment of rare and hard to find herbs, such as lemon verbena, cilantro, dill, and stevia. The Pezzas pick and harvest some of their own vegetables and herbs to sell at their farm stand from April to December, and at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmer’s Market from November through May. Their farm stand also offers seasonal strawberries from neighboring Salisbury Farm, local Rhode Island maple syrup and honey, and sometimes eggs from their chickens and ducks.
Gardeners will find everything they are looking for and more with Pezza Farm’s diverse assortment of annuals and perennials—during a recent visit in June, their greenhouses were stocked with everything from hydrangeas to holly. They carry top soil, manure, bagged compost, peat moss, planters, garden accessories, and anything else you need to help grow a healthy and thriving garden. While Johnston is home to many growers, Pezza Farm in particular is known for being the place to go for any hard-to-find plants such as citrus and fig trees.
Pezza Farm distributes their fresh produce to local schools through Rhode Island’s new Farm to School program, which encourages school districts to serve locally grown fruits and vegetables in their cafeterias. Just as two generations of Pezzas have grown up working on the farm, the family hopes to introduce the rewards of local agriculture to a new generation of children. As Johnston, like many other areas throughout Rhode Island, continues to become more and more industrialized, it is encouraging to see small family farms like Pezza Farm continue to thrive.